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Mon, 30 Mar 2020
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Heart

Irregular heartbeat linked to genetic mutation, Mayo Clinic study shows

Every day for 10 years, a seemingly heart-healthy 53-year-old woman experienced rapid and irregular heartbeats. She had no personal or family history of hypertension or hyperthyroidism. She did not suffer from myocardial or coronary artery disease, or any abnormalities of the heart as best doctors and medical science could determine. Yet, she complained of heart palpitations and dizziness nearly to the point of fainting.

For the patient in this case study, her symptoms first appeared 10 years ago and they persisted through the years. The symptoms peaked in the morning and occurred more frequently as time went on. Doctors prescribed medication, but it proved to be ineffective.

As a next step, Mayo Clinic physician researchers explored and confirmed the presence of a genetic mutation that clearly established an inherited predisposition to atrial fibrillation.

Their study findings appear in the February issue of Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine (http://www.nature.com/clinicalpractice/cardio).

"Why certain patients develop atrial fibrillation while others do not, despite comparable environmental stress exposure, might ultimately depend on their genetic makeup," the authors write.

Syringe

Texas Governor Perry took Merck money before mandating cervical vaccine

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) says that it's just a coincidence that he and eight other lawmakers received donations of $5,000 each from Merck lobbyists just a few days before mandating the drug giant's HPV cervical cancer vaccine for all females in Texas ages 12 and up.

Ambulance

Suit: Peanut Butter Caused Death

A Pennsylvania family is suing ConAgra, claiming salmonella-tainted peanut butter led to the death of a family member.

Roberta Barkay, 76, of Ellwood City, Pa., died Jan. 30.

Pills

Prescription drug deaths skyrocket 68 percent over five years as Americans swallow more pills

Poisoning from prescription drugs has risen to become the second-largest cause of unintentional deaths in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers found that deaths from prescription drugs rose from 4.4 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 7.1 per 100,000 in 2004.

This increase represents a jump from 11,000 people to almost 20,000 in the span of five years.

Health

Pregnancy hormone reverses MS damage

A hormone produced during pregnancy could reverse some of the neurological damage associated with multiple sclerosis, a mouse study suggests.

The finding could help explain why women with MS suffer fewer symptoms during pregnancy. And the results suggest that the hormone - prolactin - might one day be used to treat people with the disorder.

Multiple sclerosis involves the destruction of the sheath of fatty tissue called myelin that normally protects nerve cells. The loss of this protective layer disrupts nerve signalling and leads to symptoms including loss of coordination.

Coffee

Caffeine may be good for some aging hearts

Drinking caffeinated beverages on a regular basis may provide significant protection against death from heart disease in the elderly who have normal levels of blood pressure, according to data from a large U.S. health and nutrition study.

Drinking caffeinated beverages may induce a "healthy" rise in blood pressure that counteracts the drop in blood pressure that occurs after a meal, a phenomenon that becomes more pronounced as people age, researchers note.

Among 6,594 adults participating in the study, 426 died of heart disease during a 9-year period. For subjects 65 years of age or older, the researchers found that greater daily consumption of caffeinated beverages was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease. This acted in a dose-response fashion - the higher the caffeine level, the lower the risk, and visa versa.

Health

Cholera Outbreaks Predicted by Mathematical Model

A mathematical model of disease cycles developed at the University of Michigan shows promise for predicting cholera outbreaks.

Speaking in a symposium titled "New Vistas in the Mathematics of Ecology and Evolution" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, theoretical ecologist Mercedes Pascual discussed how models that she and coworkers have developed can aid short-term forecasting of infectious diseases, such as cholera, and inform decisions about vaccination and other disease-prevention strategies.

In research done over the past seven years, Pascual and colleagues have found evidence that a phenomenon known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a major source of climate variability from year to year, influences cycles of cholera in Bangladesh. They also showed that the coupling between climate variability and cholera cycles has become stronger in recent decades.

Health

New Study Shows Medical Value of Marijuana

New research gives more ammunition to those hoping to change federal marijuana policy.

Pills

New Warning for Attention Deficit Drugs

Washington- Drugs prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will include guides to alert patients and parents of the risks of mental and heart problems, including sudden death.

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it directed the manufacturers of Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera and all other ADHD drugs to develop the guides. In May 2006, the agency told manufacturers to revise the labels of the drugs to reflect concerns about the cardiovascular and psychiatric problems.

Draft versions of the guides posted on the FDA Web site include discussion of reports of increased blood pressure and heart rate in ADHD patients, as well as cases of sudden death in some who have heart problems and heart defects. In adult patients, the reported problems also include stroke and heart attack.

The alerts also cover psychiatric problems, such as hearing voices, unfounded suspicions and manic behavior, of which there is a slightly increased risk in patients who take the drugs, the FDA said. The guides also tell patients and their parents of precautions they can take to guard against the risks.

Coffee

Some cocoa may improve brain blood flow

San Francisco -- A nice cup of the right kind of cocoa could hold the promise of promoting brain function as people age.

In an increasingly aging world, medical researchers are seeing more cases of dementia and are looking for ways to make brains work better.

One potential source of help may be flavanols, an antioxidant found in cocoa beans that can increase blood flow to the brain, researchers said Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ian MacDonald of England's University of Nottingham reported on tests given to young women who were asked to do a complex task while their brains were being studied with magnetic resonance imaging.

Among the women given drinks of cocoa high in flavanols, there was a significant increase in blood flow to the brain compared with subjects who did not drink the cocoa, he said.